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Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Hellboy II: The Golden Army

It is a crying shame to see that after a great first film to kick off the franchise, that the second Hellboy has, like it's predecessor, underperformed at the box-office. In a summer in which the top box-office performers are the overwhelmingly bleak The Dark Knight and The Mummy : Tomb of The Dragon Emperor (albeit the latter for worse of a reason), it is refreshing to see a film like this, in which action, romance, emotion and humour are combined in such a satisfying manner. The last film I reviewed was Get Smart, which I must confess I seemed to enjoy more than everyone else, but as far as I'm concerned this is by far and out the better film. I mean, this does it's moments of humour on par, the emotion of the film is far more engaging and the action scenes are suitably fantastic. I was introduced to the franchise due to the help of an invaluable source (who shall remain anonymous for humility's sake. Yes, you just got credited by The Thin White Dude) and as an admirer of the work of Guillermo Del Toro's work (aside from the atrocious Blade II), and was charmed by the genius of the fact that he had managed to remain true to the comics while retain his single-minded visionary talents. In this film, given a little more leeway and a bigger budget, you can feel the enjoyment and pleasure that Del Toro has taken in making this film seep through every single frame. His love of the Hellboy character and his talents of a film-maker shine in this film, putting this work on level with work such as The Devil's Backbone, Pan's Labrinyth and indeed, the first Hellboy. Speaking of enjoyment of the film-making process, the actor's themselves seem to be enjoying portraying their characters in the film. Doug Jones, as Abe Sapien, gets more screen time this time around, with an integral part in the overall storyline and showing his great talent in acting through hours of make-up, the likes of which is only matched today by Andy Serkis. Selma Blair, who in my opinion delivered a good performance, but nonetheless lacking performance in the first film, embodies the character of Liz Sherman with suitable fire and energy. Even new character Johann Krauss, voiced by Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane, is suitably satisfying and enjoyable to watch onscreen. The film's villain too, Prince Nuada, played by Luke Goss, is injected with humanity due to the passion for his cause (which is noble, even if it involves the destruction of humanity). And last, but certainly not least, is Ron Perlman as the eponymous Hellboy. Last time around, as Hellboy, he played the character as a young man growing up, and learning to cope with his inner frustrations. This time around, he is in a relationship with Liz Sherman, and must once again face his fears at growing up, albeit in a different manner. If you thought that Perlman was perfect as Hellboy last time, watch this and you will think that was a teaser. Perlman literally is Hellboy in this film, embodying him with the right degrees of emotion, deadpan humour and just being an outright badass. I cannot praise his performance enough, as Perlman in this film shows everyone why he will be remembered as Hellboy. As mentioned earlier, he is an outright badass, no doubt, but he no doubt human, and he and the rest of the cast members inject the appropriate amount of emotion when necessary, even making Barry Manilow's "Can't Smile Without You" seem appropriate in a scene, much less in any situation whatsoever. The emotion and humour portrayed by the film's strong characters is most certainly helped by the film's strong script. While Hellboy himself was suitably humourous in the last film, this time the rest get at least one good one-liner from the film. Also, the film makes the audience able to empathise with every one of the character's onscreen, even Prince Nuada's giant henchman Mr. Wink. However, it speaks greatly of the script that it does not lose focus on the fact that this is indeed Hellboy's story, and so each character gets the appropriate amount of screen time depending on their character. Also, it must be mentioned that the cinematography and CGI in this film are excellent, with a perfect blend of what is real and computer generated, to the point where you cannot tell the difference with what is a make-up creature and what is a digital animation. However, my one true criticism of the film in my opinion is the score by Danny Elfman. Now, as much as I admire Danny Elfman as a composer, this is not one of his better ones. It is not a terrible score, quite the contrary in fact, particularly in the scenes with dialogue which contained background score, but otherwise, particularly in the action sequences, with two notable exceptions, one at the midpoint and one at the climax, it is your bog-standard blockbuster score. However, criticisms aside (and few there are), I feel the Hellboy II : The Golden Army will be one of the year's best films, and like The Dark Knight, which will inevitably overshadow this film, both suits its purpose as a superhero film and a very human drama with great emotional depth.

TTWD's Note: Kudos Guillermo Del Toro and Ron Perlman for making another great Hellboy film

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis – 8.8/10

On The Topic Of Hellboy II - The Golden Army

SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE FIRST HELLBOY

Wasn't Manning left to die at the end of the first movie? Bringing him back in the sequel is very reminiscent of how The Futtermans returned for Gremlins II after clearly being crushed by a bulldozer in the first film. Someone please explain?

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